Unlike the lazy, couch-hogging fatbodies they tend to be today, dogs used to be required to work for a living. For centuries, "man's best friend" was more employee than pal, and family dogs were valued much more for their ability to perform difficult (or deadly) tasks than for any snuggling skills. And this winds up explaining a whole lot about dogs that you probably didn't know.
For instance, why are dachshunds shaped like that? Why do shar-peis have all that extra, loose skin? It's because humans have bred all sorts of weird superpowers into these animals to help them do our bidding.
#6. Wiener Dogs Were Bred to Kill Badgers
With their furry kielbasa bodies, stubby little T-Rex arms, and a tendency toward unwarranted yapping, dachshunds are the feisty Rodney Dangerfields of the modern canine community. They may be the ninth most popular dog in the U.S. today (having overcome the stigma brought about during World War I by an unavoidable association with the Kaiser's Germany), but for most people the breed is little more than a running joke, often subjected to open ridicule in the streets.
"I can taste your mockery."
But believe it or not, the goofball qualities of the dachshund were designed with a purpose in mind. Those long, barrel-chested bodies, pointy noses, and paddle paws, combined with that aggressive personality, are all perfect for the job they were created for: murdering badgers.
Ershova Veronika/iStock/Getty Images
"Who's a wiener now?"
Yes, the most mocked dog in canine history was designed for mortal underground combat with one of the world's most vicious varmints. "Dachs" is German for "badger," so its name translates to "badger hound." Those tubular torsos and oversized paws help them snake through underground tunnels, while their broad chests allow for better subterranean breathing. Most importantly, those inborn Napoleon complexes they have are vital when the time comes to face the snarling nastiness at the end of said tunnel.
"You're no prize yourself, jerk."
Need more reasons to give dachshunds some respect? What if we told you about the time a dachshund saved John Wayne's family from a fiery death? How about the fact that Field Marshal Erwin Rommel raised them? Or that a dachshund named Lump was a muse to Picasso?
"We will find you and we will kill you."
And if you need further proof of their skills, here's a video of a dachshund murdering the living hell out of a field rat:
#5. The Catahoula Leopard Dog Can Climb Tall Trees
The Catahoula leopard dog (the official dog of Louisiana!) looks like a mishmash of what-the-fucks, because that's basically what it is. In fact, its exact lineage is as murky as bayou swamp water. Some say French settlers interbred their working hounds with red wolves. Others claim the local Native Americans crossed their breeds with Hernando de Soto's war dogs about 300 years earlier. Whatever their origin, leopard dogs can be a startling sight to the uninitiated, with their "cracked glass" eyes and coats that look like a Jackson Pollock entry in a grooming competition. Even more startling, these dogs have an ability one wouldn't normally associate with their kind: They can climb trees.
For those wondering how to say "Fuck you, gravity!" in dog.
This skill actually wasn't the result of creative breeders who maybe worked a cat in there somehow; it likely came about naturally. Food was often scarce back in the old days, so often the dogs were left to fend for themselves. Out of necessity, these dogs became incredibly versatile, developing not only the aforementioned tree climbing ability but also webbed feet for swimming and extremely high intelligence.
Nikki Ott, via Bull Dog Information
No trees were harmed in the making of this article. Though some were peed on.
When their unique talents were recognized, owners became so protective of the breed that their bloodline was kept secure and pure through strict (and often cruel) measures. Able to work in packs, leopard dogs solidify their badass pedigree by being one of the very few domestic breeds capable of hunting wild hogs without being torn to shreds in the process. Oh, and Teddy Roosevelt hunted with them.
Basically making everything else we just wrote there a complete waste of time.
And, again, we wouldn't leave you without video evidence:
#4. Shar-Peis' Loose Skin Turns the Tables on Wild Boars
Let's get this out in the open: Chinese dog breeds can be pretty weird. The list includes such entries as violet-tongued, edible plush toys and spoiled yippy fuckwits who think they are royalty. Those infamous contests for world's ugliest dogs? More often than not, the winners are Chinese cresteds. But the shar-pei sure stands out, because instead of the ability to taste good, or to see you as its servant, or to be hauntingly hideous, this breed is specifically designed to hunt boars. Using the power of its loose skin.
What could go wrong?
The problem with boars is that they are huge, angry wild beasts with bulletproof skin, while shar-peis are not that big at all. They average 18 to 20 inches in height and weigh from 45 to 60 pounds, which on paper is no match for the living tanks boars are. To overcome this problem, the dogs were bred to have an extreme amount of loose skin wrinkles that gave them the option to simply shake off the beast. Whenever a shar-pei was bitten, he could twist in his skin and fight back. The thick layer of skin that gave them their trademark fluffy look is actually a weapon.
"Oh, shit! Run!"
It was probably only a matter of time before someone had the idea to let the dogs fight each other, because hey, the entertainment options were scarce in ancient rural China. But the reason shar-peis are one of today's most hip breeds is that they are by nature kind, loving, and affable animals. So, how would anyone make them attack their own kind? Why, the same way everything has been solved since the dawn of man -- drugs.